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Contributor biographical information Broken link? Publisher description Broken link? Cities and towns. Sociology, Urban. Regional planning. Nicholas A. To grasp this reality and the fact that urban growth is taking place in all census metropolitan areas CMA , including the choice of urban and suburban forms as decided by economic, social and political actors, it is necessary to better understand the specificity of Canadian municipalities, both urban and suburban.

The federalist context — as it was defined in by the constitution and evolved as a result of a cultural, economic and political compromise and through a fundamental conflict between centralizing and decentralizing forces — has played a major role.

A Suburban Revolution: Understanding Suburbanization

In Canada, municipalities do not have an autonomous status as they have, for example, in US federalism. Their autonomy is directly circumscribed by provincial legislation and authority. Taking into account regional differences and the presence of two distinct cultures at the root of the Canadian political compromise, a separation of powers has been established between the provincial and federal levels. Thus, provinces are responsible for ensuring that local land management and planning meet the needs of Canadians.

However, despite the establishment of a clear separation of powers between the provincial and federal levels, grey areas of litigation did not take long to occur between the two tiers. We lack the space here to revisit the history of these conflicts, but one must emphasize that the spending power and specific prerogatives of the federal government allowed Ottawa to influence the development of municipalities and urban areas.

The federal government has not hesitated to take the initiative and support the financing of households for home ownership towards the creation of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation CMHC or the construction of transport infrastructures. We will look at these central avenues for suburban governance in detail below. Today Canadian suburbs are changing rapidly.

Post-suburbia in the context of urban containment: the case of the South East of England

The rather stereotypical view that saw the suburbs as categorically different from the inner city has been widely challenged. Canadian suburbanization has traditionally been influenced by the American and the European models. Working class suburbanization has been another distinctive feature of suburbanization in Canada historically Harris, ; Fiedler and Addie, , p. Notably, the state has had a visible role in structuring the suburban landscape and in ordering the space of the periphery Keil and Young, As a result of the specific interaction of state, market and authoritarian governance public and private in Canada, we find both the single-family home subdivisions typical for the US and the highrise-dominated peripheral ensembles associated with suburbanization in Europe.

Uniquely, though, suburban Canada has now become a remarkable new model of development that is largely defined by the immigrant experience and the diversity of new suburban populations. While Australian and American suburbs have also become havens of new immigration and increasing demographic diversification including a tendency to see rising poverty levels in urban peripheries , the Canadian case seems to be most advanced in showing cracks in the classic Anglo-Saxon model of white middle class suburbanization.

Three things have changed in recent years in Canada:.

Suburbanization has become more diverse in every respect. The white middle class suburbs of the post-war years are largely gone. More significant perhaps are the concentrations of immigrant populations in some newer sub- and exurbs such as Brampton, Mississauga and Markham. The phenomenon of the diverse suburb needs to be understood in relation to the continued formation of the global city region and the emergence of postcolonial and postmetropolitan forms of urbanization Keil, a , b.

In fact, most suburban development now takes place in a newly defined in-between city that neither resembles the old inner city and the glamorous cookie-cutter suburbs. Clearly, both these spaces still exist both in their gentrified and sometimes gated reality and they attract much attention and investment particularly in an era that defines urban development as creative, young and driven by the knowledge economy. Yet, many Canadians now live, work and play in quite undefined and nondescript middle landscapes where everything seems to happen at once: large scale infrastructure like highways and airports are next to residential quarters; all manner of service infrastructures including universities and high tech corridors are adjacent to low rent apartments; parks and parking are side by side; high speed highways and transit deserts define the same space; religious mega-structures are across the street from ethnic mini-malls Young et al.

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The political equation of regionalization and redistribution has been severed as aggressive suburban regimes have come to power regionally or even federally in Canada to use their political base to fundamentally shift the meaning of metropolitan politics. At the same time, suburban regimes in communities around Toronto as well as in Montreal and Vancouver are developing a decidedly autonomous set of strategies to make their mark in an increasingly competitive global city environment.

At first glance, this suburban resurgence in metropolitan politics seems to represent a throw-back to earlier periods of regional regulation but closer inspection reveals a new set of political circumstances that have to do with the maturing of a largely suburbanized Canadian urban region and new modes of multilevel governance. As suburban local administrations ostensibly gain more autonomy and influence at a metropolitan scale, some of them have become hotbeds of political and fiscal impropriety. This was expressed recently through conflicts of interests, graft and corruption in peripheral localities as Laval Quebec , Mississauga and Vaughan Ontario as well as Surrey British Columbia.

The causes are numerous, but the relatively limited media coverage of suburban politics may account for the apparent lack of accountability of some political leaders in suburban localities. Canadian suburbs have been shaped by a multiplicity of factors. The absence of state regulation, the role of federal and provincial governments in supporting access to direct and indirect homeownership, the availability of inexpensive land for suburban expansion and the irrepressible desire of workers for access to homeownership were all elements supporting suburban expansion and its diversified landscape.

After the Second World War, with a new wave of suburbanization, suburban municipalities had to contribute to metropolitan governance. As urban issues were increasingly defined at a metropolitan scale, suburbs were involved in decisions regarding transportation, housing and economic development concerning whole city-regions.

Thus, the representation of conformity used to define suburbia is necessarily outdated. Within the new context of suburban governance, the priority given to economic and financial concerns raises new challenges for public authorities. What is distinctive about Canadian suburban governance may be its regional character and its increasing difference from both the European and American models from where it developed its character in the past.

The importance of this population concentration and the rising power of metropolitan regions throughout the country are certainly important features of the new urban landscape of Canada. Cities, regions and their suburbs are now recognized as central to the governance of the vast territory of Canada, which is beginning to understand itself as a primarily urban country.

The current push in Canada for regional forms of regulation can be understood as a form of state rescaling Boudreau et al. In the context of neoliberalization and globalization of Canadian territorial government, local and regional modes of governance are assuming new responsibilities.

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Governance in an emerging suburban world

This has to do with interurban and interregional competition for investment and labour Florida, , with infrastructure provision Young et al. While the debate on rescaling looks at broader dimensions of social institutions in a changing global geography Keil and Mahon, , the literature on multi-level governance Piattoni, has specifically dealt with the ways in which government distributes responsibilities in federal states.

Suburbanization plays a major part in the rescaling and shifting of responsibilities across a multi-level governance structure. In this context, it is ever more questionable whether Canadian municipalities and regional institutions have the capacity to deal with challenges of immigration, poverty, exclusion and environmental issues wrapped up in the continued push for suburban expansion.

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This article talks about suburban governance both as a conceptual terrain and as an object of empirical study. What lessons can we learn from the geographic spread of suburbs? Through Hamel and Keil , we set up governance in two important ways: In the first instance, it asked how suburbs are planned and designed, conceived and materialized through self-built, state-led and private-led development. But it further proposed to understand governance through three intertwined modalities involving the state, capital and emergent forms of authoritarian governance.

In a second move, we put forward to extend governance to processes of suburban life suburbanisms and post-suburbanization which go beyond the actual original making of the suburbs suburbanization and extend towards the governmentalities of sub urban life in the 21st century overall. In many ways, the term and the phenomenon of suburbanization — and its derivative terms suburbanism, suburb — have been associated most directly with a history of decentralized urbanization that springs in ideal-typical form from the combination of liberal capitalist democracy and centrality of property rights.

With an original impetus from the British experience — which has been discussed in relation to its Western European neighbors see Phelps and Vento, —, suburbanization as it is commonly understood has had its clearest manifestation in the formerly British colonies and settler societies in the United States, Canada and Australia. Two assumptions can be made. First, in these countries, the dream of the detached house at the suburban fringe was not just a figment of the imagination as it appeared to be in many societies around the globe throughout the 20th century, even those that housed their population mostly in apartments but it was a built reality as large percentages, in some regions and time periods even the majority of housing units constructed, were single family homes on previously undeveloped land in the outskirts of towns and cities.

The centrality of the notion of property ownership coincided with institutional and cultural conditions under which the suburban way of life could thrive in a particular built environment. With it came political form fragmentation , economic structure a virtuous cycle of mass production and consumption triggered by Fordist economies of scale , financial institutions a mortgage system geared towards single family home ownership usually underwritten by central governments and administered by lower level governments, a cultural disposition towards living on and near the land arcadian and homesteading ideals co-generative of settler societies more generally , and an optimistic belief in the limitlessness of resources energy, water, land.

The second assumption was that the Anglo-Saxon ideal case is most prototypically expressed in the United States which has been examined by Nijman and Clery as well as Peck In the US, more than anywhere else, a stereotypical image of suburban form and life was developed during the 20th century in such a way that, even today, the term suburb itself evokes images of s and s sitcoms or their nostalgic remakes in the form of the successful current TV series MadMen.

While the project on Global Suburbanisms 3 overall attempts to debunk the American predominance of the notions of suburbanization, suburbanisms and suburban, the American case is a good and necessary place to start not just because the majority of the extant literatures on the matter refer mostly and often exclusively to the American case. The study of Canada Keil et al. Having considered the ideal case of suburban governance in Anglo Saxon settler societies, it is necessary to consider existing alternatives as we find in other countries, either in Eastern and Western Europe or in Latin America.

Some of those cases worldwide have demonstrated significant variation from the time of the onset of industrial era sub urbanization. The English greenbelt and garden city ideas, for example, had an influence beyond their original town planning context in the UK. The epochal significance of the Charter of Athens that prescribed functional separation since the s as well as the modern planning ideals that followed were both universal in intent and specific in form of built environment and governance.

The largely state-driven highrise suburbanization in Western European and Canadian welfare states has had similarities in intent, process and outcome with the peripheral housing estates in Eastern Europe after the Second World War. Phelps and Vento and Hirt and Kovachev respectively explored both common ground and divergent developments in Western and Eastern Europe during the past few decades.

What was perhaps different in particular, and subject of examination, is the notion of shrinkage that has now become a dominant feature of sub urban governance in peripheries of Eastern European cities Kabisch and Rink, But it has not just been in Europe that we have seen original and alternative suburban development with longstanding histories.


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The Latin American situation as it has been scrutinized by Heinrichs and Nuissl provides insight into an interesting and distinctive tradition of suburbanism which, perhaps in absence of the welfare statist version of Europe, has lately been heavy on authoritarian privatism as the main modality of suburban governance.